Limitations are constraints or restrictions. Therefore, research limitations are constraints or restrictions in research which have been put on the method of your study and the exploration process. Unfortunately, most of the researchers avoid restraints and ignore them.
They do it because they feel that if they follow all the limitations in the research, then the work that they perform will not be valued as much. Every study has its limits, and if you want to improve the accuracy of your work, then the research limitation part should be dedicated to your study.
Every study has its shortcomings and pitfalls and mentioning that your study does not make it worse.
Importance of Research Limitations
1. Acknowledge the limitations
It is essential and an excellent habit of acknowledging the limitations of your study rather than getting them pointed by your research guide and reduce your grades. It should not appear that you ignored them.
2. Further research
Acknowledging the limitations of a study means that there is further scope for carrying out research. If your study does not connect your limitations, then you have to ensure at least to explain different ways in which these unanswered questions can become better focused owing to your study.
When you acknowledge the limitations of your research, you are provided with an opportunity to show that you have thoroughly given a thought for your research and understood the relevancy of literature that is published about the topic.
It also indicates that you have correctly assessed different methods which are chosen to study the problem. Apart from discovering new knowledge, one of the primary objectives of the process is to confront the assumptions and explore the things that we don’t know.
4. Impact of limitations
Listing all the limitations is one part. Only listing all the limitations does not go well with the readers and leaves your reader wondering if your limitations have impacted the results or not.
Limitations should be evaluated critically, and their overall interpretation and appraisal should be understood. You have to understand and explain in research if those limitations affect your result and if they do, then in what way and to what extent.
Those will help you and your reader to understand the limitations and their effect on the report, properly.
Research limitations may relate to the following topics
1. Aim and objective
If the aim and objectives are classified and mentioned broadly, then you may face this limitation. You have to be specific when you formulate the research aim and purpose so that it can be narrowed down, and the focus of the study could be increased.
An objective is expected to be clear and concise. The reader should immediately understand the topic without any ambiguity. That is yet another problem – having ambiguous research objectives.
The objectives should be straightforward because many research questions are designed around the purpose of the study.
2. Data collection method
Every researcher may not have extensive experience in the primary data collection. There is a very high chance that the technique could be flawed are the collection of data may have its limitations.
Primary data collection has its limitations in many cases. It is mixed intricately with sample size. If the sample size is not taken accurately, then the researcher could end up taking a considerable time for data collection. If the sample size population is very far from each other, then the collection of data could be cumbersome. I
t also depends on the topic of your research. For example, if your topic of research is about rural population, then you may have to go to a remote place in rural localities to collect data.
At other places, you may use the internet to generate web forms and survey documents and get responses from participants, but in rural areas, the scenario is different. This is why data collection can be a limitation of your research.
3. Sample size:
The sample size is entirely dependent on the research problem. Having a sample size is very small will not help to identify proper relationships between the data.
Having a sample size extensively large is not feasible for a researcher to complete his research that within time. Therefore, with moderate sample size, it is sure they bound to have its limitations. You will not get inaccurate results, but you will not get entirely accurate results as well.
Sample size has a lot of importance in quantitative studies than in qualitative studies.
4. Absence of previous studies:
Every research has a section for literature review. It is, in fact, the most essential part of every research since it enables the researcher to identify the scope of works which have previously been conducted in the same area so far.
A literature review is a foundation for the researcher to write his study and achieve his research objectives. Sometimes there is very less previous research on your topic, and it happens if you have focused either on a too futuristic problem or too narrow problem.
For example, if you choose roles of marketing in artificial intelligence, then you may find that very less, or almost no data is available on it. This is because artificial intelligence is still in its nascent stage, and relating marketing to artificial intelligence would be the too futuristic topic.
5. Discussion scope
The scope of discussion or discussion score is usually a limitation of every research irrespective of the research area or the research topic. This happens because you may not have many years of experience of writing academic papers or of researching such a large size.
This can cause the scope of your discussion to compromise on multiple levels as compared to the work of experienced researchers.
6. Time limit
Many times, every research has a deadline. These deadlines are because why the research may not be complete. The time limit also restricts the collection of primary data.
This is true, especially in time-bound research. For example, if you want to study the long-term side effects of a medicine, then theoretically there could be no time limit check for side-effects.
The side effects could come up at any age of the patient, but because of the time limit that you have, you decide to select only a timeframe of two years to study the long-term side effects. This is a limitation.
7. Financial resources
Many new kinds of research require additional equipment, sophisticated softwares and multiple tools. These tools and equipment make the research more scientific and give a binary outcome for the research. But due to limitations of finances, you may not go through all the equipment which are required.
Apart from the material, some research processes itself need the researcher to go somewhere far off, maybe in different geography to understand better about his research. This is especially true in the case of studies where geography is involved and plays a significant role.
For example, if a researcher in New York wants to study Kiwi birds, then he will have to travel to New Zealand and stay there, which may drastically increase the cost of the research.
In space research costs often rise because of lack of necessary equipment because not everyone can have the latest equipment like NASA or ISRO. This discourages individual researcher from taking up the research, or they have to compromise on the research and make-do with whatever is available.
Tips for organizing research limitations
Following are a few tips on organizing research limitation:
1. Identification of restraints
Note down all the limitations of your study. Also, note down your conclusion and answer, how did the limitation affect your outcome. You have to answer all these questions to come up with their importance to your study.
2. Describe the restraints
This part of the research should give shortly but in more detail about the things that you have encountered in your research. You have to talk about the importance of limitations of your work and how are they going to affect it.
You don’t have to be embarrassed or scared about it, and neither does it devalue your research. It is perfectly normal for every research to have limitation.
3. Classify research limitations
Firstly, you have to write all the restraints that you have. You have to make a proper plan for this and think about how long you would like it. Then you can write a couple of drafts and see the section that will fit in the context.
4 Think about future studies
What kind of mistakes would you try to avoid, ]and how would you do it? You have to give a thought about all the perspectives of your additional studies. Note down the problem which you had and try solving them when you start working on your next research.